How to Create a Radio Ad

With so many engaging platforms available, you may think that the novelty of the car radio would’ve long worn out. After all, its heyday was in the 1950s. As it turns out, the opposite is true.

With so many engaging platforms available, you may think that the novelty of the car radio would’ve long worn out. After all, its heyday was in the 1950s. 

As it turns out, the opposite is true.

An article published by Nielson shows that radio leads in weekly reach. This, of course, is due to the ubiquity of radio and its ease of use. In this article, we will discuss why radio advertising is still alive and well. We’ll also offer some practical tips for advertising successfully on the radio.

What’s Different About Radio Ads?

On the surface, radio advertising has one obvious drawback: its lack of a visual component. This is especially true when we compare it to more modern advertisement options. As an example, let’s look at advertising online. A company can use SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages) to buy a top slot on a Google search page. They can rank higher on keywords like “website building” or “food delivery near me.” These ads hit the top of the page no matter who you are or where you are, but the consumer must be in the market to see the ad. Best of all, such ads make little noise, and people can interact with them as they see fit.


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The inverse is true for radio. Radio marketing depends heavily on time of day, local tastes, and the demographics of specific radio stations. Advertising successfully requires a certain level of knowledge about your potential customer base. This can be both an advantage and a pain point. 

Here’s an example. Political ads are effective for NPR because its listeners are more interested in politics. One source estimated that NPR listeners are “201% more likely to have contacted a politician at the state, local, or national level.” On the flip side, a Christian rock station that airs church services on Sundays might be held liable for airing a political ad. This is because it’s illegal to advertise for a political campaign through churches and charities (IRS). 

This is an extreme example, of course. But it shows why you should exercise caution when advertising over the airwaves. Ads that would work in Birmingham, Alabama might not track as well in Atlanta, Georgia. Even subtle differences from county to county can dictate how effective the ad spot will be.

While finding the right ad can be tricky, a well-placed spot on the radio can pay dividends for the savvy marketer. The reach potential of radio adverts should not be underestimated. Roger Adams, former CMO of several companies, said, “The people who are really doing their homework are looking at radio.” 

The Benefits of Radio Advertising

People do still enjoy the personal, conversational element of radio. The popularity of podcasts and the consistency of radio prove it. As one source put it: “Audio offers a unique, intimate experience for listeners and the advertisers aiming to reach them.”

This is because radio feels more like an evolving conversation than an urgent push to act on a sale. There are exceptions, but most radio personalities aren’t loud or cloying for attention. Instead, a radio host carries a soothing dulcet tone that helps destress your commute. This is a golden opportunity for advertisers to strike.

Radio advertising is also relatively cheap while offering a high return on investment. A Nielson report found that spending just $1 can lead to over $12 in sales. 

Oftentimes, a company needs only to write a script for the on-air personalities to read from. These personalities are already listener-trusted. In contrast, advertising on a medium like television can get expensive quickly. For example, a commercial that is less than a minute long can put a company out over $100,000. Of course, this is a rough estimate that only takes production costs into account. When you add other factors, the bill may be even higher. 

It’s worth considering another audio medium that’s grown popular over the years: the podcast. It’s estimated that roughly half of Americans have tuned into a podcast at some point. 

It is not only the content of podcasts, it’s the blurbs of information offered in-between. AdWeek states that “two-thirds” of listeners between the ages of 18 and 49 decided to make a purchase based on an ad they heard while listening to a podcast.”


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We’ve got proxy brand loyalty through parasocial relationships to radio personalities. We’ve also got a lower price tag, and listener engagement on top of the initial mass market appeal and ease of use. What’s not to love about radio advertising?

How to Create a Radio Ad

To create a radio ad, follow these steps: 

  • Create a script
  • Cut the script so it fits the correct timing
  • Choose a voice
  • Select the music
  • Record the audio
  • Track the advertisement

Tips for Making a Radio Ad

Now that you understand the many benefits of radio advertising, you are ready to try it for yourself. But where do you even begin? Below, we offer some handy tips for delving into the world of radio advertising:

 

  • Make it clear from the start who you are and what you are selling. You can write a clever script, pepper it with memorable catch phrases and chuckle-worthy jokes. Unfortunately, if people do not understand what the ad is for, it will likely not get you far. Remember: radio is a purely audio medium. People won’t see your memorable logo or tangible product on display. You have to make sure they get the pertinent info right from the start. Try to get your product name in the ad as often as is reasonable. Introduce yourself with enthusiasm. 

 

 

  • Check your sound quality. A good ad won’t be worth much if people can’t hear it clearly. That’s why you should ensure that your equipment is functioning as intended.

 

  • Hook them. Make those first couple seconds count. You want people to stay listening without reaching to change the station. Come up with a hook that cleverly illustrates what you have to sell.

 

 

  • Wrap it all up with a great slogan. The last thing they hear should stick with them for the rest of the day like an earworm of a song. 

 

 

  • Try sponsorships. Where radio shines is paying for sponsorship slots in fan-favorite programs. This guarantees the reliability of parasocial relationships. How? By having hosts thank a company for funding a full segment on the listeners’ favorite station. Using a sponsorship can be a great way for even smaller brands to get their name out there in a localized area.

 

Bottom Line: Radio Advertising is Not Going Anywhere

Companies have countless flashy advertising options available to them today. That said, radio advertising is unlikely to fade into a static of obscurity anytime soon. It is cost-effective while still catching the attention of eager audiences. 

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